I just thought 'stuff it .. I want to be a model again'

ASPIRING model Jo Minto had almost abandoned her dream of a life in front of the lens when she was struck in the face by a thrown pint glass.

• Jo Minto has resumed her modelling career

Blinded in one eye and her face heavily scarred, the prospect of modelling again looked slim.

It was February 2007, and Jo's modelling career was on an upward curve. She had just returned from a London photoshoot with designer label Diesel and had a string of jobs pencilled into her diary.

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All that changed when a glass aimed at the man she was sitting next to at a Tranent pub came thundering towards her.

Alexander Varndell, 20, from Ormiston in East Lothian, had grown angry at a Welsh rugby fan who was talking to his girlfriend at the New Plough bar and in a revenge attack hurled a glass at the man.

He missed his intended target and in an instant nearly shattered the ambitions of the 20-year-old up-and-coming model.

Jo was left partially blind and needing 35 facial stitches. It took doctors four days to prise all the razor sharp shards of glass from her face and eyes.

"I didn't look in the mirror for ages," said Jo, now 22. "I couldn't bring myself to. But then one day I caught sight of myself."

Until then, she had "remained strong for the family" but on seeing her disfigured reflection, she was overcome with emotion.

"I just burst into tears," she said. "I had hardly cried at all throughout it. Maybe I was bottling it all up. But seeing how injured I was . . . it just came out. It dawned on me that I could be a scarred monster for the rest of my life."

Doctors at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary immediately realised that Jo needed specialist attention and she was referred to plastic surgeons at St John's Hospital in Livingston.

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"Before it all happened I was doing bits of stuff, trying to build up my portfolio and get magazine shoots.

"I felt like I was on the brink of something. It all seemed really positive. So after it happened I had to cancel all the things I had lined up."

The former Holy Rood High School pupil summoned up all her courage to ring round her industry contacts and cancel all pending photoshoots.

"I thought it was all over, I thought that was that, done" she said. "And I began focusing on my IT career working at the time at Jewel and Esk College."

For two years Jo's vision has been severely impaired. A shard of broken glass that pierced her left cornea almost stole her sight. If it gone any deeper, she may have had to wear a glass eye.

But at the end of last year, it began to heal and her sight has now been fully restored.

"It's come back after lots and lots of medical appointments with specialists," she said.

"It returned after a long time but it came back very slowly. I was starting to get some sight back in it at one point and then one morning I woke up and it was gone again.

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"I had been getting so excited and telling everyone about it and it suddenly disappeared."

Varndell, her attacker, was released from prison with an electronic tag after serving nine months of a two-year sentence.

Today, the only physical reminder of the attack is a small lump of scar tissue on Jo's forehead concealing a shard of shattered glass.

"You can hardly notice it and now I feel I have fully recovered," she said. "You can't see any scarring on my face, unless you are up close, and with a little make-up you would never know anything had happened at all."

Her sight stabilised and injuries healed, she has revived her dream and sought a return to the limelight

"I thought 'stuff it, give it another go and get back into it'," she said and has now launched herself back into modelling.

She has signed up with several agencies and is winning contracts. "The work has been flooding in," he said "It has given me a real confidence boost to see that people want to work with me again and everything has spiralled from there," said Jo, who lives in Danderhall, Midlothian, with her DJ fiancee Jamie Drummond.

"I'm now juggling my 9-5 job at British Gas Dyno Rod with modelling work."

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The cover girl of online magazine Recon-Rag Air Softing – a site promoting war games akin to paintball – Jo even presents their online TV programme.

She is also leading an internet poll to win a photoshoot with popular lads' magazine Nuts.

"I feel that I have my dream back again. When you have a set back it sometimes drives you on to try harder," she said.

"But I could not have done it without the support of my family, my fiancee and all the doctors and surgeons."

Thinking about where she hoped to be a few years down the line, she joked: "Hopefully sitting in a bar with Kate Moss."


ALEXANDER Varndell was sentenced to two years in jail for the glass attack on Joanne Minto which Sheriff Kenneth MacIver described as "a reckless and drunken act" of "violent stupidity".

The attack took place at the New Plough pub, Tranent, on 8 February 2007, and Varndell admitted culpable and reckless conduct, leaving Miss Minto disfigured and severely injured.

Varndell appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in September of the same year when the sheriff was told that the 20-year-old had been arguing with a man.

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Shortly after the argument Varndell, of Ormiston, East Lothian, aimed a pint glass at the man but missed and it struck Miss Minto in the face and shattered.

Sheriff MacIver said at the time: "The public recognises that the courts must deal responsibly with that type of drunken loutish behaviour."

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